Getty Images is Suing AI Image Generator Stable Diffusion

An image generated by Stable Diffusion with a recreation of the Getty Images logo.

Getty Images is launching legal action against the creators of Stable Diffusion claiming the AI image generator infringed its copyright.

The photo agency has commenced legal proceedings against Stability AI in the High Court of Justice in London stating that the company “copied and processed millions of images protected by copyright.”

It’s the second time today PetaPixel has reported on Stability AI being sued, a class-action lawsuit is also being brought against the image synthesizer by a group of artists.

“This week Getty Images commenced legal proceedings in the High Court of Justice in London against Stability AI claiming Stability AI infringed intellectual property rights including copyright in content owned or represented by Getty Images,” the company writes in a statement.

“It is Getty Images’ position that Stability AI unlawfully copied and processed millions of images protected by copyright and the associated metadata owned or represented by Getty Images absent a license to benefit Stability AI’s commercial interests and to the detriment of the content creators.”

The dispute comes down to licensing, it appears Getty believes that Stability AI should have licensed the photos used to train Stable Diffusion.

An image generated by Stable Diffusion with a recreation of the Getty Images logo.

Stable Diffusion’s training dataset is open source (unlike OpenAI’s DALL-E) and analysis of the dataset has found that content on stock photo websites constitutes a large portion of the dataset. Waxy sampled 12 million images from the 2.3 billion used to train Stable Diffusion and found that 15,000 of them came from Getty. It’s worth noting that 12 million is less than one percent of 2.3 billion.

The Verge notes that Stable Diffusion can recreate Getty’s watermark logo on its generated images, a hypothesis backed up by PetaPixel’s own tests, damning evidence that Stability AI has trawled Getty’s library.

“Getty Images believes artificial intelligence has the potential to stimulate creative endeavors,” Getty’s statement continues.

“Accordingly, Getty Images provided licenses to leading technology innovators for purposes related to training artificial intelligence systems in a manner that respects personal and intellectual property rights.

“Stability AI did not seek any such license from Getty Images and instead, we believe, chose to ignore viable licensing options and long‑standing legal protections in pursuit of their stand‑alone commercial interests.”

In a recent tweet, Stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque says of Stable Diffusion’s training dataset: “I believe they are ethically, morally and legally sources and used. Some folks disagree so we are doing opt out and alternate datasets/models that fully cc. Models and data for all.”


Last year, PetaPixel predicted that lawsuits would be brought against the makers of AI image generators, 2023 has barely started and there are already two major ones.

AI image generators need pictures created by human photographers and artists to learn how to synthesize images. The truly astonishing technology has excited and amazed people but a backlash began after the realization dawned on how the latent diffusion models work.